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Roses    by Leila Meacham order for
by Leila Meacham
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

In 1916, sixteen year old Mary Toliver has inherited the family cotton plantation, Somerset. The Tolivers have lived in Howbukter, Texas for generations, and Mary has the same love of the land as her father and others who have gone on before. After the reading of the will, Mary's mother Darla turns to alcohol to ease her hurt and humiliation, while her brother Miles is angry. Miles has power of attorney until Mary turns twenty-one, so he decides to send Mary away to boarding school. Miles feels this will help his mother adjust and hopefully bring Mary around to the idea the plantation should be sold and the money divided between the three of them.

Away at school Mary is homesick for Somerset and the close, loving relationship she once had with her mother. She feels Miles does not have Somerset's best interests at heart and yearns for the day she can return. At home, Miles' two friends, Percy Warwick and Ollie DuMont, are involved with their family businesses. Percy is in the timber trade and Ollie manages the family's department stores. Returning from school Mary finds Miles has neglected Somerset and she begins to set things right. Both Percy and Ollie admire Mary for her hard work and business sense. Before long Mary finds herself falling in love with Percy, but he demands too much and her heart is with Somerset.

When World War I erupts, Miles, Percy, and Ollie enlist. Ollie also has feelings for Mary, but he promises to take care of Percy and Miles. Fate has other plans and Ollie finds himself to be the one to suffer. While the men are at war Mary works diligently to get Somerset out of debt before the bank takes over. She vows to hold on to her heritage, no matter what the sacrifice.

As the years pass, Mary, an elderly, sick widow, looks back on her life with regret. She dreams about what could have been and vows to defeat the Toliver curse. Her life has been one struggle after another filled with heartbreak. In the end she eventually gives her great niece the one gift that has eluded her in her lifetime. Roses is a family saga filled with strong characters. The story unfolds revealing their secrets, deceit, tragedies and revenge.

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